Friday, May 14, 2010

Responding to tragedy

I heard a tragic story today that was unspeakably sad. Unbelievable. About child molestation, incest, and betrayal, a family destroyed long ago. But yet the impact seems to still spread like ripples ever-widening. Great evil, great impacts.

My mind could not wrap itself around the possibility that I could know anyone personally affected by such things. And it dawned on me that my first, gut reaction, of defensive disbelief, is the reaction the Catholic Church has clung to so horribly these many long, long years that its sexual-abuse scandals have been coming to the light of day. I can understand the notion that good people find it simply unbelievable that such atrocities could ever, ever happen. Much less, by people wearing priestly vestments who were supposed to be the pillars of their community. But social or religious status does not convey upright character at all. Quite the opposite, at times.

Is the new pope really an awful man, as he often seems, or hopelessly out of touch with modern sentiments of right and wrong? He seems to always be stumbling after making some indefensible comment, and he surrounds himself with people who don't help. When he finally seems to say something that could be interpreted as condemning priestly molestations, it is so watered-down.

Are all sins forgiveable, or meant to be forgiven? The Bible speaks of a sin against the Holy Spirit as something that cannot be forgiven. I don't know what that is, really, but it seems to me that the most unforgiveable sin is to harm an innocent child. To do it repeatedly -- how can such a stain ever be removed? It seems it is permanently recorded.

So how can someone who could not protect their own child from such harm -- how could that person ever overcome that? I don't know. But I know it seems just as much a crime to see other lives destroyed, with no hope of redemption. It seems to give such a total victory to the perpetrator.

So today is a sad day. A day of trying to absorb someone else's difficult blow. And a day where I am coming to terms, or questioning, my own failings as a parent. (Well, that's every day now, isn't it?)

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